Howzattt? Nepali cricket asks ICC on eve of key meeting



In January 2015, Nepal’s national cricket team was headed to Africa. The team was one of the six sides competing for the second division of International Cricket Council’s tier-two league. The top two teams were to get a chance to play in the first division of the league.

But Nepal fumbled. The team lost to Uganda by 2 runs and Kenya by 5 wickets. It was again defeated by Kenya in the third-place playoff. Everything has gone wrong for the national side, except for the series win against Namibia at home. Dark clouds continue to hover over the future of the game as a national-level league has not been organised for years.

To top it all off, the ICC has suspended the cricket association.

As monsoon rains force cricket lovers indoors in Nepal, the cricketing community sees a silver lining far away in the sky as the International Cricket Council’s Annual Conference kicks off in the Scottish city of Edinburgh on Monday.

The ICC says this will be the first time that the annual meetings are taking place in Edinburgh, and it expects delegates from 50 ICC members countries to attend. That, however, is not going to be the only ‘first’.

The meeting will mark the first time that a proposal will be seriously debated on the future of Test Cricket, and the relevance of One Day International Cricket. Up for discussion will be ICC Chief Executive David Richardson’s proposal to introduce a two-tier league structure in Test Cricket and ODIs.

The two proposals

Both the proposals are directly linked to the future of the Gentleman’s Game in Nepal. If the two-tier Test structure gets the nod, it will be easier for countries like Nepal, Ireland and Afghanistan, who will play in the second tier, to advance to the top tier, and play the longest form of the game with the best teams from around the world.

Similarly, under the ODI proposal, likely to be discussed during the meeting, Nepal stand as favourites to get a berth in the new two-tier league structure. According to reports in the British press, if the proposal is implemented, an ODI league structure will be created with 13 teams playing each other for the championship title from the 2019 season.

The 10 ICC member countries that play Test cricket will be joined by three associate members in the league. Analysts believe the ICC is certain to pick Afghanistan and Ireland, but it is still undecided about the 13th side.

points table wclc
WCL Points table

Reports say the ICC is well aware of the popularity of the game in Nepal, and it is in favour of granting Nepal place in the top league, even as the team is ranked fifth in the World Cricket League (the ICC’s current tier two league).

Odds in Nepal’s favour

Back in 2015, Nepal fumbled in Division II. But the ICC ‘bent’ its rules to promote Nepal to Division I, despite finishing fourth in the league.

Why did the ICC do that? Well, those who follow the game believe that the ICC sees potential in Nepal. Outside the Test cricket world, it is only Nepal where over 10,000 spectators come to watch their team play. Nepalis living abroad follow the game with equal enthusiasm. All this translates into a large TV viewership of the game, and big revenue for the ICC to promote cricket around the world.

Won’t be an easy decision to make

While top ICC executives are learnt to be keen on giving Nepal the ’13th side’ position, they are worried that the decision could raise questions about the integrity of the game’s administrators. Yes, cricket has future in Nepal, but at present, there are better teams playing in Division I than Nepal. The cricket association is in a mess in Nepal, and that could also sway the decision against Nepal.

Historic week ahead 

Regardless of the decision the ICC takes in the next few days, this is going to be one historic week that could change the way the game is played in Nepal, and outside. This is the sort of silver lining cricket lovers in the associate world want to see.


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